State of the University Address
President Sidney A. Ribeau, Ph.D.
School of Social Work Auditorium
April 3, 2013
University-based research is critical to the innovation and global competitiveness of our nation, and student research is fundamental to the development of our future researchers and scholars. I also want to congratulation the faculty and students who received the Research Day awards. This is an excellent way to recognize research excellence at Howard.
I was also pleased to see many of our undergraduate students participating in the Research Day event.Howard has a rich tradition of engaging undergraduate students in faculty research projects, as well as encouraging them to develop and undertake their own research as part of the senior capstone experience. Engaging undergraduate students in academic research is an important pedagogical practice. Studies show that involving undergraduate students in faculty-mentored research leads to increased retention, student achievement, and graduation success. I applaud our faculty for their efforts in this area.
We were also fortunate to have with us the director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), Dr. John Ruffin, as the keynote speaker for the Research Day event. As you are aware, “Health Care Disparities” is one of Howard University’s key academic areas as identified in the Academic Renewal plan. Earlier this semester, the University will host the 2013 national symposium on U.S. Healthcare with a focus on health disparities and increasing minorities in health professions. Healthcare Disparities is a center-piece of our PCAR initiative, and Howard’s collaboration with the Minority Health and Health Disparities division of the NIH and other healthcare professionals and leaders across the nation is critical to making progress in this important area of national and international need.
I should also note that the NIH is the second largest provider of federal grants and contracts to Howard University. (The first being the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.) The University continues to make excellent progress toward its goal of becoming the first HBCU to become a top-50 research university. The inaugural university-wide Research Day is an excellent opportunity to recognize faculty and student excellence in this area.
2013 Alternative Spring Break
In addition to our research mission, Howard University has a long and rich tradition of engagement in service to our community, nation, and world. Now in its 19th year, Howard’s nationally recognized Alternate Spring Break program continues to expand to new national and international sites. This year, 400 students from Howard University engaged in service projects in seven cities in the U.S. and Haiti – addressing issues ranging from illiteracy to gun violence. Our students are to be commended for their efforts – and I am pleased that their volunteer service was recognized through media coverage in the U.S. cities where they served, including Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, and here, at home, in Washington, D.C. They also received a proclamation from the City Council of New Orleans in recognition of their eight years of service in helping to rebuild communities and neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This is an amazing effort, and we should all be extremely proud of our students whose commitment to improving the lives of children, youth, families, neighborhoods, and communities is exemplary. I also want to express my congratulations and appreciation to WHUR for hosting the “Helping Hands” radiothon
Other Spring Semester Highlights
This has been a rich and productive spring semester, beginning with the inauguration of the second term of President Barack Obama – and Howard University’s hosting of a panel on the first term of the Obama presidency, as well as a panel discussion on Black political issues. In addition, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center sponsored an inspiring photographic exhibit of President Obama’s first term in office – featuring the work of official White House photographer, Pete Souza.
Earlier this semester the University hosted the 4th annual national African-American Economic Summit that focused on the impact of the recession on African-Americans and policy issues that might be addressed in the second term of the Obama administration.
In February, the University’s Center for Global Business held its inaugural Ambassador
We were also joined this semester by Marian Wright Edelman who led a stimulating and discerning discussion of the American prison system as part of the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King lecture series. The endowed King Lecture Series is one example of the diverse array of academic lectures that take place during the academic year.
Just before spring break, we celebrated our 146th Charter Day Convocation, followed by our annual Charter Day Dinner with faculty, staff, and student guests; as well as Board members, alumni, and friends of the University. The theme of the dinner was the “Bridging the Gap Campaign” and I am pleased to announce that we raised approximately $400,000 thousand in gifts at the Charter Day dinner – bringing our campaign fund-raising total to $2.7 million to date, this does not include outstanding pledges. Funds raised through the “Bridging the Gap Campaign” are allocated to need- based student financial aid – and we are grateful to everyone who has made a contribution to this important effort.
Bridging the Gap Campaign
As you will recall, we launched the “Bridging the Gap” fund-raising campaign last year with the goal of raising $25 million to support need-based financial aid for Howard students. This is a critical initiative of the University – and the University’s top fund- raising priority for the next three years. Providing access to a Howard University education – and supporting our students so that they are retained through to graduation – is critical to the success of this great University. It is at the heart of who we are – and what we do. A Howard education will transform the lives of the talented young men and women we recruit and retain and graduate. And they, in turn, will transform our communities, our nation, and world.
Due to the economic climate, approximately 90 percent of our students require some form of financial aid. The financial need of our students has never been greater – and the “Bridging the Gap” campaign is designed to make a significant and immediate difference.
In fiscal year 2012, the campaign provided $400,000 in aid to over 200 students. Earlier this month, the campaign worked with the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) to identify 400 students who received a total of $600,000 in immediate aid, $300,000 from HUSA and $300,000 from the “Bridging the Gap” campaign – including many senior students who will now be able to graduate in May, as a result of the need- based financial aid provided.
In addition to the immediate aid provided by the Bridging the Gap campaign, an endowment fund has been established – in order to create a lasting legacy of need-based financial aid for future generations of Howard students.
We are extremely grateful for the faculty and staff who have provided and will continue
In March of this year, Howard University was recognized by the Tom Joyner Foundation
Faculty Awards and Recognition
At this time I would like to acknowledge a number of faculty who have received recognition for their scholarly work – recognitions announced since our last State of the University convocation in November of 2012:
Later this month, the Founders Library will host the annual Faculty Authors appreciation day in recognition of the research and scholarly activity of our distinguished faculty. I look forward to the reception to honor the research, writing, and creativity of our 2013 faculty authors. This will be the 17th annual celebration of our faculty authors and a fitting recognition of academic excellence at Howard. I also thank the Faculty Senate for its role in this annual faculty recognition event.
Academic Renewal Initiatives
We continue to make progress on our Academic Renewal initiatives.
Decanal Searches Underway
This semester, a number of decanal searches are underway, including interviews with finalists for several key University leadership positions.
The University’s Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) has been working on recommendations for a five-year improvement plan that would address faculty compensation and ensure that our faculty salaries are competitive with our peers.
Administrative and Staff Renewal
Administrative and Staff Renewal is an essential component of our University-wide renewal initiative. Over the past three years, our initial focus has been on finance, information technology, human resources, and strategic sourcing. We have also worked aggressively to implement a shared services model in order to strengthen our delivery of services. Later this semester I will be convening an administrative and staff review team to assess our progress and determine next steps as we continue to implement our University-wide renewal initiatives. I would like to see more professional development opportunities and leadership development for our staff and administrators.
Students First Initiative
As I noted above, the University’s Bridging the Gap Campaign to provide need-based financial aid to our students is the University’s highest fund-raising priority, and will continue to be during future years. In addition to the fund-raising campaign, this year the Board of Trustees approved a tuition freeze for the 2013-2014 academic year, in spite of rising costs and a number of external budgetary challenges to the University. It is critical that in these difficult economic times to ensure that we safeguard access to a Howard University education to our most promising students. In addition, a tuition freeze will assist with student retention, and our efforts to graduate the students who are at the heart of the Howard University learning community.
As part of our Students First Initiative and the University-wide renewal initiatives, we established a goal to enhance our social media communications at Howard University. Recently, the University reached a milestone with 20,000 Twitter followers. Howard University has made great progress in the area of social media, with numerous friends on Facebook, and two years ago Howard was ranked number 32 among the top 100 social media colleges in the nation, according to StudentAdvisor.com.The publication noted that it compared over 6,000 colleges and universities across the nation “in terms of their mastery of public social media methods, tools, and websites.” Howard offers a full range of social media – including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, and podcasts. We continue to make excellent progress in this important area of communications among our current and future generation of Howard students – including many of our faculty, alumni, and friends of Howard University.
As part of the University’s renewal initiatives, the University developed a new ten-year Campus Master Plan that is designed to support our academic programs. It is an ambitious plan that reflects the changes in our physical environment that are needed to support the academic renewal of the University.
Over the last three years, we have made substantial investments in renovations of the
A key priority of our Academic Renewal plan is to enhance our interdisciplinary teaching and research, as well as develop new interdisciplinary courses and programs. This new facility will provide a research environment that will break down traditional departmental silos as our faculty work together to advance innovative solutions to the challenges that confront our nation and world.
I should note that the interdisciplinary research building is the first academic building to be built at Howard in three decades.On the main campus, the last academic building, not including libraries, was the Business School building which was built in 1984.
The projected completion date of the new research facility is late fall of 2014.
Friends and family of Howard University have worked hard to secure bonds to build this facility – and invested over $2.8 million to make these new facilities possible.It has been a great experience to see the Howard family come together and give back to help accomplish the common goal of significantly enhancing the quality of life for the students on our campus. Thanks to the Board of Trustees and to everyone who worked hard to turn this dream into a reality for our
Fiscal Challenges for the Current Fiscal Year (FY 2013)
As you are aware, the University is facing a number of challenges to our operating budget for the current fiscal year (fiscal year 2013).
As a result of a significant decrease in student enrollment in the fall semester, along with a number of other revenue shortfalls and an anticipated reduction in Howard’s federal appropriation due to sequestration; it was necessary to implement a number of cost saving measures for the duration of the current academic and fiscal year.
The impact of these revenue shortfalls on the University’s operational budget for the current fiscal year has been significant.
As you can see from the chart above, the University receives approximately 17 percent of its operating revenue from tuition and fees (this is the blue section of the chart on the power point slide). In the fall 2012 semester, approximately 400 enrolled students failed to return to the University. The majority of these students reported financial challenges as the reason why they did not return.
Howard University is not alone in experiencing such a high student withdrawal rate. As a result of changes to Pell grant eligibility and underwriting standards for federal PLUS loans for parents, many students were suddenly ineligible for these two forms of federal financial aid. The number of student withdrawals in the fall of 2012 at colleges and universities across the country has been dramatic, particularly at HBCUs.
And given that Howard University receives approximately 17 percent of its operating revenue from tuition and fees, a decrease in enrollment of 400 students has a significant impact on the University’s overall budget.
As you are aware, the Board of Trustees approved a tuition freeze for the 2013-2014 academic year. Although this will be a challenge for us - as we address the next fiscal year’s budget - it is critical that we do everything we can to support access to a Howard education for promising students – and to retain our current students through to graduation. Our students’ academic success continues to be our number one priority.
In addition to the shortfall caused by a reduction in tuition revenue, the University experienced lower than expected revenues from Howard University Hospital during the first two quarters of the current fiscal year, as a result of changes in federal reimbursement rates and federal policies regarding patient admissions. As you can see from the chart above (see the section in red), Howard receives approximately 35 percent of its operating revenue from clinical services provided by the Hospital.
The third area of revenue shortfalls that the University is facing this year is in the area of Howard’s annual federal appropriation. As you can see from the chart above, Howard receives approximately 27 percent of its operating budget as an appropriation from the federal government. Howard University is one of only two universities in the nation to receive a federal appropriation as part of its operating budget.
As a result of sequestration which went into affect on March 1st of this year, we anticipate that Howard’s federal appropriate will be reduced. We anticipate notification of the percentage cut by the end of April. In addition, it is possible that next year the University’s appropriate may be reduced for the entire fiscal year 2014.
Although the sequester took effect on March 1st, there is still uncertainty as to what the percentage reduction will be for many federal agencies and programs, and when the reductions will be implemented. President Obama has instructed the heads of federal agencies to submit their operation plans and budgets related to the sequester to Congress by April 25th – including the U.S. Department of Education which will make a recommendation regarding Howard’s appropriation in relation to the sequester.
At this time, we are engaged in aggressive lobbying of Congress with the goal of seeking an exemption of Howard from the sequester; however, if it is concluded by Congress that the sequester reduction is mandatory, then we will advocate for a reduction in the amount of the sequester cut. I am working closely with our governmental affairs staff as we make the case for Howard and our students with members of the House Appropriations Committee and other Congressional leaders.
As you can see from the chart above, the University receives approximately 79 percent of its operating revenue from these three major revenue areas - depicted on the chart in blue, red, and green – corresponding with tuition and fees (blue), revenue from the Howard University Hospital (red), and revenue from the annual appropriation that Howard receives from the federal government (green). To be in the difficult situation of facing revenue shortfalls in each of these three areas in the current fiscal year, has resulted in a significant negative impact on our operating budget.
Given this situation, it was necessary in late January – as we tracked the University’s revenue during the first and second quarters of the fiscal year – to implement major cost saving initiatives to address these revenue shortfalls.
To address the revenue shortfalls for the current year, we implemented the following measures:
At this time I would like to reiterate that it is never easy to make decisions of this nature
As I conclude my remarks this morning, it is important for me to emphasize that we have come a long way together over the last five years since I began my tenure as president of Howard University. During the Academic Renewal process and the University-wide renewal initiatives, we have worked together to build a shared vision; we have set ambitious goals; and we have made significant progress in achieving them.
At this time, however, it is important that we undertake a comprehensive review of our progress, and re-assess our strategic goals and priorities. It has now been three years since we began the implementation of our Academic Renewal plan – and our other University-wide Renewal initiatives.
Later this month, I will be reconvening the leadership team of the President’s Commission on Academic Renewal and charging members of the team with undertaking a comprehensive review of the goals and objectives established by the Commission in their report of September, 2010.
Following the Commission’s assessment of our progress – we will launch the implementation of PCAR - Phase II -- with increased attention and focus on areas identified as strategic priorities of the University. I will provide a report to the campus community on the results of this review and identified priority areas at our Opening Day Convocation in the fall of the upcoming academic year (fall of 2013).
In closing, let me say that as we approach our 2013 Commencement and the annual ceremony that will send another generation of Howard graduates to provide leadership and service for the nation and world, I want to thank you for all you are doing for Howard University. Our faculty, staff and students have worked hard and sacrificed much in order to move the University forward to new levels of innovation and excellence.
I look forward to taking your questions, and learning about your concerns and ideas related to realizing our vision for Howard University.
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